NBA Playoffs: How the New York Knicks Can Bounce Back and Win the Series
The New York Knicks have secured a victory in Game 5, which was their first step in their mission to overcome a 3-1 deficit at the hands of a gritty Indiana Pacers team.
However, the game was close throughout, and it took the Knicks a total team effort to defeat the Pacers in their two victories in the series so far.
If the Knicks want to come back and win this series, they will need to do much more than they did in the past five games.
Carmelo Anthony Needs Help
Coming into the series, the Knicks had two offensive weapons in Anthony and J.R. Smith, who were supposed to carry the load on offense, while the rest of the team is incapable of doing so.
Unfortunately, it's only been Anthony who has done the bulk of the scoring in this series. In five games against the Pacers, Smith has averaged 13.2 points on 29 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent from beyond the arc, per Basketball Reference.
As, arguably, the second best offensive player on the team, Smith hasn't done enough on offense to help the Knicks win games.
In Game 5, Chris Copeland came off the bench and stepped up, scoring 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting to give the Knicks a lift on the offensive end as they ground out a victory at the end.
In order for the Knicks to continue winning games, they must have their role players step up and contribute on offense, especially when Smith has been in a tremendous shooting slump recently.
Total Team Rebounding Effort
In four of the five games, the Pacers have out-rebounded the Knicks. Three of them resulted in victories.
The Pacers registered the best rebounding rate during the regular season while the Knicks were tied for 17th in the league in rebounding rate, per Hollinger's team stats.
The Knicks' excessive use of small-ball lineups is definitely limiting the team on the glass, and the Pacers' rotation of big men—which includes David West, Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi and Tyler Hansbrough—have been dominating the Knicks on the glass.
The Knicks just don't have the talent or depth to match up to the big lineups that the Pacers frequently use, and it's hard to keep both Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin on the floor for rebounding purposes and expect the team to effectively score on offense as well.
To remedy this issue, the Knicks need everyone on their team to crash the glass. The guards need to chase the loose balls and run toward the basket to help the bigs grab rebounds.
It will certainly limit the team's potential for transition points if their guards leak out, but the Knicks cannot allow the Pacers to get second and third opportunities to score.
Bench Needs to Step Up
According to Hoops Stats, the Knicks were fourth in the league in bench scoring during the season, averaging a total of 38.5 bench points per contest. The Pacers, on the other hand, were just 29th in the bench scoring and averaged just 25.3 bench points per game.
However, the Knicks' bench production dropped to just 26.2 points per game during the playoffs, although the huge factor for the drop-off in points is due to Smith's ineffectiveness in the past few games.
Anthony will score his usual number of points, but that isn't enough to carve out a victory if the bench doesn't contribute enough.
The Pacers' balanced attack on both ends of the floor has worn down the one-man scoring machine, and the Knicks will not be able to win the series with Anthony alone.
Whether it's Smith breaking out of his funk or Amar'e Stoudemire getting back into his old form, the Knicks need to find an unsung hero on their bench to help them overcome the suffocating Pacers' defense.
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